3 Italia taps Ericsson for LTE upgrade

Europe will soon gain another LTE network after 3 Italia announced that it has signed an agreement with Ericsson that will see the vendor upgrade the operator’s network to LTE offering speeds up to a theoretical limit of 100Mbps. The operator said the upgrade would be ready for a commercial launch in 2012, but did not give an exact time frame.

The upgrade would also deliver support for HSPA at up to 42Mbps, which 3 Italia said would be ready by the end of March 2012.

Vincenzo Novari, 3 Italia’s CEO, said in a statement that: “We are taking another step toward meeting the demand for mobile broadband connectivity and services from Italian consumers and enterprises. We are making HSPA+ coverage available on the entire nationwide network from the end of March and will launch LTE services already in 2012. Our network will become even more efficient at handling data traffic, ensuring a better quality of experience for our customers.”

3 Italia has been working with Ericsson since 2001, when the operator first rolled out its 3G network. The partnership extended to managed services on 2005 and a deal to extend its network to upgrade its WCDMA/HSPA network was entered into in 2009.

In the Italian spectrum auction last year, 3 Italia won two 10MHz blocks of FDD spectrum in the 2.6GHz range, 30MHz of 2.6GHz TDD spectrum and 2 x 15MHz in 1.8GHz. It missed out on the more attractive 800MHz frequencies however after it did not bid.

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